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Strapping young lads, voluptuous teenage ladies, old drunken kung fu masters and undead hooligans are just a smidgen of phrases that come to mind when one thinks of Sega's revolutionary 3D fighter - Virtua Fighter!
Now adding yet another title to the collection, Sega has shown that its recipe for flawless 3D ass kicking has withheld the test of time. But, everyone knows that time spent in the spotlight can haunt you farther down the road. Let's see if Virtua Fighter 4 Evolutions can stay within the lime light!
One thing Sega's Virtua Fighter series has been known for is its accelerated advancements in graphics. Being one of the first, if not THEE first, 3D fighting game ever created, Sega has raised the graphical bar with every installation. So, how does VF4 Evo stack up graphically to its ancestors and today's leading fighters? Well, to tell you the truth, I have no idea why I'd try to compare such a masterpiece with its ancestors. The graphics in this game truly are breath-taking even by today's standards, let alone with yesterdays. The models are beautifully rendered and animated. Its actually pretty hard to believe this game is running on the dated PS2 console. The backgrounds are also top notch! Compelling goodness of 3D eye crack, the game really is able to draw upon the true power of the PS2. Each character in the game is presented with a plethora of different costumes and little accessories to customize your fighters already stellar looks! From fly ass pimp outfits to biker getups to shinobi drag, this baby's packed with enough outfits to make the "Clueless" chick satisfied. But, don't let the graphics stop there! There is still the water and snow to talk about! In a few fighting arenas, you get the pleasure of fighting in a ring of snow or baby pool. The snow actually compacts when you fall or step in it and the water effects in the baby pool are close to perfect! Ok, enough with the effects already! Bottom line, after looking at this game its hard to look at anything else!
Personally, I've never really noticed much about the music found within the VF series of games. Ya, its there...they didn't leave it out, but nothing has really ever come to my attention about it. Well, like most things in life, the music has drastically increased in effectiveness over the years! This game's got plenty of good tunes to go around! Not to mention the sound effects are done really well! With good voice overs in multiple languages, this console fighter leaves that fresh minty flavor in your mouth. All together, sound is fantastic!
Good sound and good graphics make a great game right? It's ok, it's ok! Calm down...I was just joking. Everyone knows that the only thing that makes a great game is the gameplay. You can have the worst graphics and horrendous sound, but if the game is just too fun to put down...it's a great game! The VF series has always been centered around a new experience. They were hell bent on getting away from that down, down-forward, forward + punch button style of gameplay since day one of the creation of VF. As we see with VF4 Evo, this tradition has continued to be the trend. The gameplay, at first, seems almost childish in its simplicity. With one punch button, one kick button and a block button, it's hard to imagine just how many moves this game could have. But, don't let 3 buttons fool you! This game has so many different combinations of moves that I would argue to say it would be near impossible to learn all of them! The combos come fast and furious requiring great strategy and reflex in to avoid them. One of the things I found annoying however was ground juggling. Once a character is knocked down, they take a small bounce on the ground before they land. This bounce allows for ground juggling and, though each hit takes off less damage, this can lead to juggle deaths...which I find very annoying. Another thing I found annoying is the amount of time needed to get back on one's feet after hitting the deck. This as well can be annoying if you don't have the skill to kip (getup handspring) right away after hitting the ground.
Other than the that though, this game has some REALLY addictive gameplay. I admit, when I first started playing the game, I was a bit uninspired. But, after a few hours of play, I just couldn't put it down! VF4 Evo comes with 3 play modes: Arcade, VS., and Quest mode. The arcade and vs. modes are pretty much your basic fighting game modes but, the quest mode is something I think every fighter should have! In this mode you pick a character that you want to fight with for a LONG time! This is the mode where you can unlock all kinds of goodies! You can acquire money and prizes from fights as well as new areas! Each new area has its own tournament which you must qualify for in to enter. Qualifying is different in each area and the directions are in Japanese, so be prepared to invite your local foreign exchange student over! Along with the new areas is like a survival tournament area. This area has many different tournaments and each change the fight in a different way. For instance, the see-saw battle adds and subtracts life to and from your life bar until you either have all the life and your opponent has none or vise versa. A battle like that could last a long time if both fighters are good! All in all gameplay is a winner! Quest mode is a blast, and it'd be even better if I could read Japanese characters!
Great gameplay, saucy graphics and peachy music make Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution a very enjoyable game. Since this baby's an import, I would recommend to the masses to wait for the game to hit the states since the quest mode is WAY too fun to miss out on the details! As for the hardcore fighting game enthusiasts out there...if you got access to a Jap or modded PS2, then you should make it worth your while to get access to VF4 Evo! As always, if you're not sure...rent before you buy (if you can rent Jap games). This is Trippyliquid...trippin out!!!